DRF aka Thrifty Bill
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: The NC Mountains
Bikes: 86 Katakura Silk, 87 Prologue, 87 Cimarron, 14 frame school custom, 73 Paramount
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1. Its very likely a six speed freewheel, and not a cassette. Totally different technology.
2. So no, it is not as simple as buying a nine speed cassette. It is going to take a replacement wheel, designed to hold the cassette of your choice.
3. Replacing with modern shifters, wheels, etc., is no problem on a steel frame, but will be costly. Price out the integrated brake lever/shifters by themselves.
4. Main consideration? Cost. Secondary consideration, do you have the time/interest/tools/etc., to do it yourself. Its not that hard to upgrade a steel frame bike like that Trek.
I have done what you describe many times. The key? Finding a donor bike with the parts I desire, and doing a swap. Two of my current keeper bikes were upgraded in that fashion, as many others for friends or for the heck of it.
1992 Paramount Series 5: originally came with 7 speed DT Shimano 105 drivetrain. Now sports mostly Ultegra, with Shimano 600 8 speed STI, 8/9/10 speed 105 wheelset.
1987 Schwinn Prologue: Originally came with Shimano 600 DT shifters, 7 speed drivetrain. Now mostly Dura Ace 9 speed drivetrain.